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Home Energy Efficiency Information: Coming to your MLS by 2018

By Jeremy Crawford, Executive Director, Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) on Jan 05, 2016

Technology empowering home buyers to find homes based on efficiency ratings is available and currently being tested.

Imagine the next time you are ready to buy a home, going online and being able to search by the energy-efficiency ratings of homes the same way you can search for homes by price, or number of bedrooms. Or better yet, when you’re strolling around the streets of a potential neighborhood, you spot a For Sale sign on a home, and right there alongside the real estate agent’s name is its energy rating.

While it won't happen overnight, the Energy Department and key industry stakeholders are working together to speed up the process to make “green” decisions factor into everyday real estate transactions. Through the new Better Buildings Home Energy Information Accelerator, RESO, the real estate industry’s governing body for property data standards, is working alongside the Council of MLSs and others to help Multiple Listing Services (MLS) across America provide a consistent “energy-transparent” shopping experience for consumers.

Right now property data (of all types) differs from market to market, making it difficult to achieve a national standard across states, cities and communities. To help with this, RESO created a Data Dictionary – a “Rosetta Stone” for the real estate industry – that standardizes property data fields across the country. 

To encourage adoption of these standard fields across MLSs, RESO has embarked on a multi-year certification effort. Five different Data Dictionary Certification levels for MLSs – Core, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum – will go into effect in five waves with the first deadline set for January 1, 2016, and continuing through 2020. MLSs also have the option to move through these waves more quickly if desired and many are embracing the opportunity to do so with their first past of adoption and certification. To date, two of the nation’s leading MLSs -- the California Regional Multiple Listing Service and Metrolist Services Inc. -- have successfully certified at the highest level, Platinum.  In total, MLSs that serve more than 700,000 Realtors have been Data Dictionary certified.

The Silver level will define standards and consistently capture “green” property features inside the MLS so real estate agents and consumers can readily search for properties by energy features, scores and ratings. (See table below for list of standard “green MLS” fields included in RESO Silver Certification level.) For home buyers, they will be able to learn more about the energy efficiency features of homes, including achievements such as completing Home Performance with ENERGY STAR, certification to LEED for Homes or the actual Home Energy Score achieved, for example.

RESO’s involvement in the Home Energy Information Accelerator was a catalyst to incorporate the energy efficient fields in the Silver certification, rather than wait until the final level of Platinum certification as originally planned. This accelerated deadline will encourage vendors to build more standard tools that bridge energy efficiency info into real estate listings and bring the capability of searching by energy efficiency characteristics to more markets. Most importantly, we took the RESO Data Dictionary and mapped it over to the BEDES Data Dictionary to allow for a natural “flow” of data as defined by the Department of Energy into the correct MLS Fields.

Today five pilots across the U.S. are bringing MLSs that cover the Northeast, Washington D.C. area (MRIS), Chicagoland area (MRED), Boulder area (IRES) and Portland, Oregon area (RMLS) together with energy efficiency programs to not only facilitate effective adoption of these important data fields, but also to ensure a pipeline of reliable energy efficiency information is available to populate these fields.

To learn more about these developing innovations, check out the Better Buildings Home Energy Information Accelerator online here.